Sustainable UNH

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Celebrate Food Day; Come Learn About Equal Exchange!

October 23rd, 2012 · No Comments

     Tomorrow, at long last, Food Day will be here.  In recognition of the occasion, Rob Everts, Co-President of Equal Exchange, will be coming to UNH to share the Equal Exchange model in his talk: “Equal Exchange: A Radical Model for Global Food, Farming and Business.”  The talk will take place in the Mub Theater from 4:00-5:15.  To provide some background on Equal Exchange, it is a food co-op born here in New England that pioneered the fair trade concept. They began with coffee in 1986 and expanded to tea, cocoa, bananas, and a number of other products.   For those unfamiliar with the concept of Fair Trade, it is a movement that aims to assist producers in improving trading conditions while promoting sustainability.  Equal Exchange has been instrumental in the widespread adoption of Fair Trade products by companies across the country.
As globalization created an international trade market for food products, the control of this system shifted to the hands of large corporations. In the process, incomes of small farmers were destabilized, consumers lost the connection with their producers, and there was a tendency to resort to unsustainable farming methods and inconsistent labor rights. The Fair Trade movement addressed these issues, and has been essential to the development of a healthy and just food system.
Referring to the social justice component of Fair Trade, Rodney North, a worker-owner of Equal Exchange, asserted that, in restructuring the food system, people are as important as the land. “The poverty and the expanse of exploitation ingrained in the food system is far too little appreciated and deserves much more concerted action,” he says. This fifty million dollar enterprise demonstrates a food system that is both sustainable and just as viable.
When asked if there was a place for students to be involved in the Fair Trade movement, North said, “If the students eat, there is an opportunity for them to make a difference.”  It all comes down to choices, in day-to-day food purchases, who you vote for, and what careers you choose to pursue in your lifetime.  Nationally, there are already numerous student groups devoted to food issues, like United Students for Fair Trade and Co-Fed, as well as Slow Food and Real Food Challenge, both of which have local chapters represented at UNH.
One of the great things about an issue like Fair Trade is that, as students begin to think more about careers, there are opportunities for involvement from many related sectors which require diverse skills and insights.  Individuals in business, law, hospitality, policy, advocacy, media, environmental, government, and even seminary positions have a role to play.  Students who attend the talk will have the opportunity to ask questions about the Equal Exchange model, and the chance to sample the company’s products before and after in the Fair Trade Café Sessions!

Tags: Food, agriculture, & nutrition

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